Bad weather? Here are some indoor activities with your dog

December 4, 2023

Winter can bring its share of wind, snow and darkness. While you’re likely to go out less, your dog still needs exercise. We have solutions.

It's easy to forget that mental activity is an important way for your dog to burn energy. It also strengthens the bond which the two of you share, while stimulating and supporting his or her emotional health. Here are 4 easy-to-play indoor games, guaranteed to trigger your dog's neurons.

1. The academic

Pick one of your dog's favourite toys and give it a name, such as “ball”, “baby”, or “boubou"… be creative! Every time you touch the toy, say its name out loud so that your dog can make the connection between object and name.

When you feel that your dog has learned the name, take it to the next step by associating an action. For instance: “catch boubou”, “look for ball"or “find baby”. Be sure to congratulate him when he gets it right. Once he's got this under his belt, make it more difficult by adding more toys and setting mini traps to challenge your dog.

This game requires time but it's well worth the investment. If you think that your dog isn't up for the challenge, read our article about Chaser, Dr John Pilley's Border Collie who learned an astounding 1,022 words during his life. Start with one word and watch them add up over time.

2. Two's company

Who doesn't like a good game of hide and seek? It enhances the bond you have with your companion animal and helps stimulate all her senses. Hide behind a door or in a cupboard, then call your dog. Once she's accomplished her mission—by finding you—make sure to congratulate her with a healthy dose of hugs and your sunniest praise. Then … start again! When weather permits, this is also, of course, a great outdoor game.

Variation: As your dog learns the ropes, hide in more obscure locations and widen your geographical range. Your dog's losing interest? Treats may be the answer!

3. Hide and seek … biscuits!

Bring out your dog's snooping nature by transforming a simple treasure hunt into a stimulating—and rewarding—activity. Put your dog in a closed room (or have someone hold her back) while you hide treats throughout the house. Wash your hands carefully (so that you don't “confuse"the scent). And, voila, now the adventure is in your dog's court! This game only takes a few minutes but really helps to bring you together. Ready, steady … go!

4. Sit pretty

When treats are involved, you know that your dog is always game. Why not make the most of this fact by putting your dog to the test? Helping him learn new tricks is an excellent way to develop his intelligence, agility and obedience. Once he's mastered “sit"and “lie down”, here's a good way to help him learn to sit pretty.

Hold a treat in your hand and raise it above your dog's nose. As soon as his front paws leave the ground, give him the biscuit. Repeat this step, until your dog associates his behaviour with the treat. Tip: once you've done this several times, continue but without the treat … you'll reward your dog, but only when the trick is complete. And this way, he'll learn that following your hand—even when it's empty—is rewarding!

Once your dog has mastered the move, make the trick more complicated by stepping back further and further. If he holds the position, reward him with a treat. You can even give your new acrobatic move a name and ask him to hold it for longer periods.

The internet is bursting with variations of this game. Check them out!


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